Josh Jacobs does things differently than Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, the greatest running back in the history of the Oakland-Los Angles-Las Vegas Raiders, but if he keeps going the way he is Jacobs might someday challenge some of Allen’s franchise records—if he stays with the team.
The 5-10, 220-pound Jacobs, after being slowed by injuries last season, again played the way he did in his first two seasons with the Silver and Black when he rushed for a career-high 144 yards and two touchdowns in addition to catching five passes for 31 yards in a 32-23 victory over the Denver Broncos last Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas to help the Raiders break a three-game losing streak.
Jacobs’ touchdowns went for 10 and seven yards, the first to give the Raiders a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter and the second to clinch the victory with 2:02 remaining in the game.
“He’s one of the best runners that I’ve ever been around,” Coach Josh McDaniels said of Jacobs after the game. “I’ve been around some good ones. He has a great ability to make yards after contact. He has a great ability to make yards even if there’s not a whole lot there right away.
“We kind of had the mindset we wanted this to be a physical game and leaned on Josh and the running game a little bit more than what we have and really established that. Our goal was to try to make it that kind of game and make it a fourth-quarter game.”
Added defensive end Maxx Crosby: “Josh Jacobs is a damn baller. That’s been my brother since day one. I’m so happy for him. He went down there and closed the game.”
Jacobs, who was the Raiders’ first-round draft choice (No. 24 overall), rushed for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns in addition to catching 20 passes for 166 yards as a rookie and added 1,065 yards rushing and 12 scores while making 33 receptions for 238 yards in his second season.
However, Jacobs sustained rib and chest injuries last season while rushing for 872 yards and nine touchdowns, but he did catch 54 passes for 348 yards.
In addition, the Raiders did not pick up his fifth-year option during the off-season.
“I really don’t think too much about it, honestly,” Jacobs said at training camp of the Raiders not picking up his option. “I’m a firm believer in, the work that you put in is going pay off for itself. I had to be here either way, and this is where I want to be. So, I didn’t have a problem with it. It gave me more of a reason to come in every day, jell with the guys and work.”
Jacobs rushed for 57 yards on only 10 carries in this season’s opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, added 69 yards on 19 carries against the Arizona Cardinals, and had 66 yards on 13 carries against the Tennessee Titans even though he didn’t practice all week because of an illness and Las Vegas lost all three games.
Then the Raiders turned him loose against the Broncos and Jacobs showed what he is capable of. doing every week if he gets the chance.
“At the beginning of the game, I told the guys, ‘Today's the day. I’m going to set the tone,’” Jacobs said to reporters afterward with a game ball tucked in his arm. “I knew we were going to take the ball at the beginning of the game, so I was like, ‘I’m going to come in and set the tone.’ And that’s what I tried to do today.
“I can feel the passion in the guys that we know what we're capable of. We didn’t even play a great game today. There’s still a lot of things we have to improve on, but you can see that it’s there. There’s hope that we can see it and we’re finally reaping some of the benefits of the work we’ve been putting in.”
Allen, who has been something of a mentor for Jacobs since he came to the Raiders in 2019, is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 8,545 yards and ran for 79 touchdowns in 11 seasons, while Jacobs is now 10th on the list with 3,423 yards and 30 scores in three-plus seasons.
“I just ask him little pointers, what can I do better?” Jacobs said of his phone conversations and/or texts with Allen. “I’m just happy to have a great mentor like him, a Hall of Famer who is just mentoring me and taking me under his wing. Giving me coaching points is huge to me
“He’s one of the best goal-line, short-yardage runners that I’ve seen, that I’ve watched tape on. So I try to ask him, how do I mimic certain things about that, too.”
Said Allen: “I guess the question about Josh Jacobs is, what can’t he do? I like everything about him. I thought he was a great draft pick and I love the person that he is. … He’s quick, fast, strong, he blocks well, is a great runner, and a good pass receiver. He does everything well. He’s a great, young pro.”
If Jacobs stays with the Raiders, he could someday challenge Allen’s records.
The Las Vegas Raiders travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs next. That game is on Monday, Oct. 10, and it can be seen on ESPN. The game starts at 8:15 p.m. EDT/5:15 p.m. PDT.
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